Experienced speech

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The experienced speech (also "free indirect speech") is an epic stylistic device that stands between direct and indirect speech , between self-talk and report : Thoughts or consciousness contents of a certain person are expressed in the indicative of the third person and usually in the so-called epic past tense , the thus assuming an atemporal function.


Experienced speech differs grammatically from indirect speech, which is formulated in the subjunctive .

Example sentences:

  • Direct speech: She asked herself: "Do I really have to go?"
  • Indirect speech: She wondered if she really had to go.
  • Experienced speech: did she really have to go?

In longer passages in lived speech it is often impossible to decide who is speaking: the narrator or the character. The character speech is seamlessly woven into the narrative report. It can only be recognized by the way of expression, the formulation of questions, assumptions or expressions indicating formulations: "Certainly she had locked the door ...", "But oh! It was too late… ”The perspective of an omniscient narrator who puts himself in the shoes of the character does not apply here, rather the narrator's voice and the character's voice merge. The experienced speech mostly stays with the “now” of the figure, analepsis and prolepsis are built into the figure as thought processes and are related to current events. The experienced speech thus creates the impression of immediacy, although the use of the third person singular suggests an "objective, impersonal report".

The experienced speech is not to be confused with the inner monologue , which is in the first person singular and in the present tense, and the stream of consciousness . The following definition makes it clear that the boundaries are partly blurred: The speech experienced is the “reproduction of the unformulated stream of consciousness in the third person”.

Sporadic discourse can be traced back to Latin literature, since the twelfth century it has been found in French epic (style indirect libre) , in the 17th century in the “memory of suffering” of the Danish Leonora Christina Ulfeldt , but it is only found in the modern novel through Jane Austen and Gustave Flaubert to naturalism to a common stylistic device, which is then replaced with Arthur Schnitzler and James Joyce by the technology of the stream of consciousness.


"[Emma looked at him and shrugged.] Why wasn't her husband at least one of those quiet but ambitious men of science who sit over their books all night ...? The name Bovary, which was hers too, should have been famous, should have been in books and newspapers, known from all over France. But Charles had no ambition! "( Gustave Flaubert : Madame Bovary )

"[The Consul ... went around ...] He didn't have time. He was overwhelmed with God. She should be patient. "( Thomas Mann : Buddenbrooks )

“How should Auguste find out now? [...] Auguste was simply not taken for full. [...] Something had to be done, otherwise the most unheard of things could happen to Auguste. "( Kurt Schwitters : Auguste Bolte )


  • Ivo Braak: Poetics in a nutshell. Basic literary terms. An introduction. 6. revised and exp. Edition. Kiel 1980.
  • Gero von Wilpert : Subject dictionary of literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 6th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-520-23106-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gero von Wilpert, Specialized Dictionary of Literature
  2. Kate Hamburger, quoted in n. Ivo Braak: Poetics in key words. P. 245.